Are Palm Trees Native to California?: 6 Facts to Know

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are palm trees native to california
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

“Beautiful beaches with stunningly tall palm trees” comes to mind when we think of southern California.

Palm trees have turned into a symbol of ornamental value for Southern California. But are palm trees native to California? To your shock, well only one species of the palm tree is actually native to California. Washingtonia Filifera aka California Fan palm trees is the only native palm tree you can find in Southern California.

Let’s dive a little into the Palm trees of California and find out “Are palm trees native to California?”

1. A Little about Palm Trees

Before talking about “Are palm trees native to California?” Here is a Fun Fact: There are more than 2500 species of palms in the world. They are as tall as 10 to 15m in height.

Palms are stunning, tall trees that reflect luxury to their surroundings. They are a member of the Arecaceae family and are commonly found in America, Asia, and Southern Australia.

are palm trees native to california
Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

Some of the known palms are coconut palms, oil palms, date palms, etc. There are palms differentiated according to their height as there are some tall palms as well as comparatively short palms.

Most of the palms are tropical palms that are so tall that they can form a canopy.

Many palm trees are not only for showcasing beauty but are really important economically too. Generally, every type of palm tree has numerous parts which have good commerce value. But are Palm Trees Native to California?

You can take the example of coconut, it serves as a beverage, oil, and milk.

Even though palms are native to a few regions, you can still see them in most of parts of the world. They have adjusted according to their regions over time.

1.1 When should you plant a Palm Tree?

You might be surprised to know that young palms are more difficult to be transported and plant elsewhere as compared to adult ones.

It’s very crucial to know when to plant a palm tree so that you can have a good and healthy adult palm.

The warm season helps in developing a healthy tree or plant. So, you can consider planting a palm tree in spring or early summer.

2. History of Palm Trees in California

The Southern California you see now is not how it was naturally in earlier times, moreover, it was just another semi-arid grassland.

To present California and mainly Southern California, Various marketing efforts were made to establish Southern California as a tropical getaway by planting palms in large quantities.

As only Washingtonia Filifera or California fan palm is native to California, other palms were imported from other countries to show some diversity for the sub-tropical vibes.

During the mid-1700s, California’s first date palm was planted by Jesuit missionaries and Spanish missionaries but it was more of a regional cause rather than an ornamental value.

It was during the 20th century when many immigrants arrived in America from countries like Egypt, Mexico, and others. They brought different varieties of palm trees to seed along with them.

During the Olympics period in 193os, an explosive amount of palms was grown in California as a part of Los Angeles’ beautification program.

Most of these palms were sown near the Los Angeles river as they need moist soil to grow perfectly.

3. From where did Palm Trees come to California?

Are palm trees native to California? If not then how did they come here? Such questions might be circling in your head.

Except for Washingtonia Filifera or the California Fan palm trees, all the lavish-looking palm trees are the species that were imported from other countries. As it’s easy to move these trees, they were imported in large numbers to make the beachy vibes more summery.

Mexican fan palms are top in ranking as they are the ones who are imported into California majorly. The Mexican fan palms are native to Mexico but came to California in the 20th century and have quite adapted to the surroundings.

Apart from Mexican fan palms, Queen palm trees, True Date palm trees, Mediterranean fan palm trees, Kentia palms, Pindo Palm trees, and Desert fan palm trees are some of the palm trees brought to California.

Over time, non-native palms are now easily grown and survive in the weather conditions of California

4. Types of Palm Trees we can see in California

Apart from the question “Are palm trees native to California?” If you are wondering what are the different types of palms grown in California, then we have got you covered. As we know there is only one native palm in California and that is the California fan palm but there are also other palm species in California.

are palm trees native to california
Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Let us go over various types of palm trees in California.

4.1 Mexican Fan Palm

Mexican fan palms are non-native palms in California that can grow as tall as 100 feet. They are sometimes mistaken as California fan palms as they have the same fan-shaped leaves. Mexican fan palm was imported from Northern Mexico. These are also known as Washingtonia Robusta.

These are mostly found in the Baja California peninsula and lined up in Los Angeles streets.

Mexican fan palm trees bear flowers in the spring season along with blackberry-like fruits which taste like dates.

4.2 California Fan Palm

Second on our list is the California fan palm, which is the single native palm in California.

So those who are wondering “Are palm trees native to California?” Well, this palm is single-handedly the natural palm tree of California which is not imported from any other nation.

California fan palms are also referred to as Washingtonia Filifera and can grow up to 70 feet in height. They have fan-shaped leaves due to which they got their name, California fan palms.

They have a history of about 150 years in the Los Angeles region.

California fan palms have a very deep role in the lives of Native Americans as they used this palm tree as utensil raw product, ate fruits, and many other things.

4.3 Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island date palms are flowering palms and are identical to true date palms.

The shape of these palms is quite unique as opposed to popular beliefs of palm trees being slim and tall, Canary island date palm is almost as wide as they are tall.

4.4 King Palm

King palms will give you the ultimate tropical vibes in California. King palm is brought from Australia to America due to its ornamental value.

King palm gives a truly exotic beach environment wherever they are planted.

4.5 Queen Palm

Queen palms are quite popular in the streets of many Californian regions. This palm can easily survive in the heat of California which sometimes make others think that these are native palm in California.

5. Easy Steps to plant a Palm Tree

a) The first step should be to decide which palm species you want to plant.

Cold weather palms- Mexican fan palm, Pindo palm, Chinese windmill palm trees, and Cabbage palms.

b) Choose the location where you want to plant the palm tree as they are quite heavy, so planting on a low slope is recommended.

c) Dig the hole for planting in the ground. The hole should be twice wider as well as deeper than the root size of the palm tree.

d) Then you need to carefully remove the plastic or cloth in which the root ball of the palm tree is covered.

e) Lastly put the tree in with utmost care in the hole and cover the area with mud. Do not forget to make a soil barrier near the plant so that the new palm tree can retain water properly.

f) As the roots of palm trees are small, thus newly planted palms need some temporary support to keep standing still.

g) The palm trees should be watered thoroughly as the soil around the palm trees should be damped to properly grow into a healthy adult palm tree.

Extra tip- Do not use fertilizer during the early weeks of the newly planted palm tree as they are just transported and are already in shock. Using fertilizer might trigger this shock and affect their growth.

6. Frequently Asked Questions( FAQs)

a) Which type of palms is commonly found in California?

King palm, Queen palm, Mexican fan palm, California fan palm, and Mediterranean fan palm are some of the palms found in California.

b) Do palms grow in California?

California palm trees have adapted well to the environment and grow quite well in California. But they are comparatively smaller in height than their original average height.

c) Can palm trees survive in California?

Yes, palm trees can survive in California.

7. Final Thoughts

So back to the question… “Are palm trees native to California?” The answer is that only one species of palm is native to California and its name is the California fan palm.

Palm trees hold an important place in marketing Los Angeles as an exotic holiday spot even though it doesn’t have tropical vibes naturally.

Over time palm trees in California have turned into a symbol that you have entered into the beachy vacation getaway where you can see palm trees of different species lined up in most of the corners of California.

We hope that now you are clear about ” Are palm trees native to California?”

Do visit Los Angeles or Southern California and enjoy the exotic destination filled with tropical vibes!

Also check out, Can you go inside of the Statue of Liberty

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